Tim Anderson or Paul DeJong: With Bo Bichette injured, should the Toronto Blue Jays trade for a shortstop?

Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
10 months ago
It’s never a good thing to see your star shortstop go down with an injury.
But if there was ever a time for it to happen, it’s less than 24 hours away from the MLB trade deadline.. I guess.
Bo Bichette turning the corner to find second base after singling in the bottom of the third only for him to pull up and reach for his right knee is about the worst thing the Toronto Blue Jays could’ve asked for. Seriously. It sucks.
The obvious hope here is that Bo Bichette is okay and that this is nothing more than just a little tweak. A little tweak that’s just a little tweak, and not a little tweak like Jordan Romano hurting his back at the All-Star game then landing on the IL weeks later little tweak. I digress.
While last night the team kept mum on what’s ailing Bichette beyond saying he was just dealing with a bit of discomfort, they more likely than not at this point have an idea of what’s going on. A potential short-term or long-term injury aside, a middle infielder is something that the team has reportedly been eyeing on the trade market.
Heading into today’s deadline there’s a fairly small list of players who could fit that bill with the two top options being Chicago White Sox’ Tim Anderson and Paul DeJong of the St. Louis Cardinals. Other names could theoretically be available too, but these appear to be the most likely trade candidates.
In Anderson, the Jays would be acquiring a 30-year-old whose amid the worst year of his eight-year career. Once a batting title winner and silver slugger, Anderson’s bat has completely disappeared with a meagre .245/.286/.293 slash line. That, coupled with a .258 wOBA and 60 wRC+ does not spark joy. A free agent at season’s end, he has a club option for $14-million next year. His cost, given his struggles, isn’t likey to be much.
DeJong, meanwhile, is a bit of a more appealing option. He’s slashing .233/.297/.412 with a .308 wOBA and 96 wRC+. While he may not have the name recognition or past accolades that Anderson has, he’s a much better bat and defender than. He’s in his fourth year of arbitration this year, but has club options for 2024 and 2025 at $12.5-million and $15-million, respectively. The cost here, however, could be much higher.
But which is the better option for the Blue Jays?
May 4, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; A squirrel runs in to the dugout and past St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong (11) and pitcher Miles Mikolas (39) during the sixth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
In potentially acquiring Anderson, Ross Atkins would be hoping for them to repeat something that happened last year when they acquired Whit Merrifield from the Kansas City Royals. Merrifield posted a 79 wRC+ before he was traded to the Jays and increased that number to 119 after he was drafted on Aug. 1st. This year? Well, Merrifield has been tremendous with a 117 wRC+.
It’s not unreasonable to think that Anderson could have a similar turnaround with his poor production thus far being a “one-off.” To me, this is the move that makes more sense.
But with DeJong, more options open up for the Jays. He’s got multiple years of team control, has been much better this year, and most importantly, could potentially be packaged with an outfielder like, say, Dylan Carlson. While he’s been a bit of a disappointment given his former status as baseball’s 13th-ranked prospect and the number one in the Cardinals system in 2021, he’s still just …*checks notes*… 26-years-old and has three years of arbitration remaining.
A few outfielders the Cards have traded in recent years? Adolis Garcia (25), Randy Arozarena (24), and Lane Thomas (25). Yeah, not a great track record here.
If the Cardinals, who the Jays have already traded with twice acquiring Genesis Cabrera and Jordan Hicks over the last two weeks, are willing to part with both DeJong and Carlson in a deal, well, sign me up. Both players have mashed against left-handed pitchers this season, something the Jays have struggled with this season, and are without a doubt plus defenders at their respective positions. But those two aren’t the only ones who have succeeded at hitting lefties, as Anderson’s posted a 128 wRC+ of his own in that split.
Nonetheless, the Jays have some inherent needs and have already more than signalled their willingness to push their chips in this season paying a pretty price for a high-end bullpen arm that’s a pending free agent.
Now let’s see what they cook up over the next 12 hours.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.


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